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Little Thunders— Surviving our lessons

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I find political strength through spiritual strength. Each day I take time to gather and burn medicines and raise sacred smoke for prayers of gratitude — gratitude for everything, even the conflicts, for they are our teachers.

The recent events in Washington, D.C., along with the looming inauguration forecasts of violence have me thinking about this land. I think about our history and our Native nations, the old republics of the Eastern Woodlands — the Shawnee who managed this land, the Lenape who called Yellow Springs home, and the Anishinaabe (my people) who traveled and traded. We all did our best to advise the infant United States to avoid self-destruction.

We as Indigenous people have observed glaciers come and go, species be born and die, Nations rise and fall here on our homeland, and our unity remains intact. I have been asked about the Native influence in the creation of the United States as if it were our crowning achievement. It is not. In a thousand years from now, our stories will not be about creating the United States; they will be about surviving them.

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When I was a child, I was given a lesson that I will share with you. Five generations from now, our people will begin to return to the original teachings and knowledge of this land. Languages will return, along with the beating of the drum, the medicines, the foods, the connections. But this time, we will not be alone. It is said that there will be new people who will begin to understand and move in this direction — for their own survival depends upon it. This knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge that has been put into action.

The call for action for today is to understand what we are being taught — and to work to survive our lessons, to work in solidarity with Black and brown people.

For you today, my friends and fellow villagers, I raise sacred smoke for those of you who are troubled, confused, afraid, or alone in this time of isolation. I raise up smoke for the sorrow and grief that we feel collectively. I take these feelings into my body. For those who work for the people, for healing, and for spiritual evolution of our common humanity and planet, I also raise sacred smoke, in gratitude for our teachers, and in unity with other beings.

*Knickerbocker belongs to the Anishinaabe people, is a citizen of White Earth Nation, and is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe from the Ottertail Pillager band of Indians.

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